Check out Part 1 of Becky Graebner’s ongoing series on the culture and lifestyle of our nation’s capital:
Also check out Becky’s D.C. driving tips:
The 4th of July was always a big to-do in my small hometown. After the brats, sparklers, and fireworks, I usually returned home with grass stains all over my clothes and a rash—usually from doing log-rolls down hills and into poison ivy. I was young. It was worth it.
What I miss most about my childhood memories from 4th of July is the simplicity and peace. Yes, firecrackers went off at inopportune times and some grills may have started small fires, but, overall, the holiday was simple and family-oriented.
Before the fireworks, my family would trek a few blocks to our town park. It was like a migration you would see in a computer version of the Oregon trail —minus the typhoid, gunshot wounds, and dead oxen…Do you want to rub salt in that wound? Press A. On this journey, our family would run into girls from my brownie troop, my elementary school teachers, and maybe a well-timed ice cream truck. The lightning bugs would start to come out and I would run through the school soccer fields trying to catch them. Simple. Wholesome.
This year was my third 4th of July in Washington, D.C. Although the fireworks are pretty good, the holiday here is anything but simple or peaceful.
The city descends into another ring of circus-like craziness and the tourists flock here like zombies to the last living, human host. The grocery stores are short in supply of kool-aid, hot dogs, paper plates and alcohol tolerance.
I didn’t get out of bed until mid-afternoon on this year’s Independence Day because I knew the outside world would be a sweating puddle of red, white, and blue glitter and fading balloon animals. There are three flavors of people in Washington, D.C. on the 4th of July and I encountered all of them on my six-block walk to the fireworks. These people make me shake my head at humanity, but also laugh. America, you’re awesome.